Curse of Afghanistan: Half the population starves   


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By Akansha Vashist

New Delhi, January 11: More than a year after the US and its allies turned their backs on Afghanistan, the war-ravaged country is now battling hunger of a scale not seen in recent decades in any part of the world. Activist Omaid Sharifi shared the ordeal of Arezoo, an Afghan woman, who is now forced to sell her kidney to save children from hunger.

Strategic observers and activists are stating that while half the population have been faced with starvation situation, hunger and extreme cold are causing deaths of the people in a large number. There is an extreme cold situation prevailing in Afghanistan currently.

The Taliban marched to Kabul as the security personnel trained by the US-led western alliance dropped their guns and fled during summer of 2021. Within days, the US and its allies were packing, negotiating deals with the Taliban sympathizers to leave Afghanistan.

In less than 17 months, the men and women in Afghanistan are starving, while the Taliban are busy raising the terror outfits to launch strikes in the north-western frontier province of Pakistan, as the world shuns the country to its fate. With the Taliban pushing the women and girls out of the colleges, the European Union and the western NGOs too abandoned the nation, drying the supply lines of food for the struggling civilians of the country. India had extended emergency food relief supplies to Afghanistan, but now there appears a rethink on the way to deal with the evolving situations in Kabul, which have alarmed the Central Asian nations, besides posing an existential threat to Pakistan.

Human Rights activists are raising their voices of alarm, with ground reports that the women and children are dying of hunger in Afghanistan. In some quarters the US is being blamed for ravaging Afghanistan, as it entered into war nearly every decade since its formation (1776) — fought its longest war (2001- 2022) in Afghanistan in order to oust the Taliban.

Arguably, the US tried to raise an alternative government in Afghanistan but the more it tried more it failed. Finally, one day April 14, 2021, Joe Biden, President of USA, decided to abandon people of Afghanistan to their fates. The Tabilan seized the opportunity and re-established itself in Afghanistan. Afghan history completed a full circle. More than two decades had been lost, dusted to the ground.

As a parting gift to Afghanistan, the US and its allies, which included the likes of the UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, etc., and the World Bank revoked the credentials of the Central Bank of Afghanistan. The Taliban don’t have access to the deposits of the bank since its takeover on August 15, 2021.

“Despite the actions of the US and others to license banking transactions with Afghan entities, Afghanistan’s central bank remains unable to access its foreign currency reserves. As a result, the country continues to suffer. Businesses, humanitarian groups, and private banks continue to report extensive restrictions on their operational capacities. At the same time, because outside donors have severely cut funding to support Afghanistan health, education, and other essential sectors, millions of Afghans have lost their incomes,” Human Rights Watch stated on the unravelling of human tragedies in Afghanistan.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said in a report in 2022 that “as of March 2022, the people of Afghanistan are suffering one of the world’s largest and most severe hunger crises”. “This is affecting 22.8 million people, equivalent to more than half of the population, as a result of extended drought, conflict, political instability and COVID-19,” stated the FAO.

Almost 20 million people, half the population, are suffering either level-3 “crisis” or level-4 “emergency” levels of food insecurity under the assessment system of the World Food Programme (WFP). This crises has been accentuated by high level of food inflation as farmers are reeling from one of the country’s worst droughts in decades.

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